"I stand upon some dreadful brink, and it is utterly dark in the abyss before my feet, but whether there is any light behind me I cannot tell. For I cannot turn yet." Éowyn to Faramir, quoted from The Steward and the King; The Return of the King; Book V byJ.R.R. Tolkien.
Minas Tirith, 28th March 3019, Third Age
Entering the main corridor that led to the Rohirric wards, they heard clapping and male voices jeering and then, as seemingly a door closed, there was only the sound of quickly moving feet ahead, mixed with female giggles and the chiming of some kind of small bells until another door opened and closed again, shutting out any noise.
Given the sounds, Éowyn could not help a very clear image of what had upset the Warden popping up in her head and a side glance at the Steward's grinning face showed her that she was not the only one whose imagination was working. They hastened towards the second ward and opened the door to the yard.
Near the small basin in the middle of the yard stood a group of Haradrim, consisting of four colourfully dressed men, holding various musical instruments and six women shrouded from head to toe in what seemed to be large silken sheets of a very dark blue. In front of the group a rather impressive matron stood, dressed as colourful as the men. Just as they entered she snapped her fingers, whereupon one of the musicians started to play a flute and the women split up, moving along amongst the pallets with gliding steps. Some remarks from the injured arose, but one of the Riders who had obviously come up from the camp with the Haradrim motioned to them to stay silent.
Suddenly there was a single drumbeat. The women stopped, and raising their hands high above their heads, let go of the silken sheets. For a moment the men simply stared transfixed at what was revealed before their eyes. Then the drum took up a strange irregular rhythm, a string instrument Éowyn had never heard before joined in with a mewling sound and the women, their hands still raised, began to dance.
She was not sure whether the garments that covered the dancers' legs were skirts or very voluminous trousers, they just seemed to consist of an incredible amount of folded, semi-transparent cloth, held low on the hips by belts studded with countless little bells made of brass and silver. Similar bells were tied around their ankles while in their hands they held tiny finger cymbals. Their upper bodies were covered by garments Éowyn had no word for, though "bodice" was the one that came closest. It covered little more than the dancers' breasts, leaving their middle down to the richly ornate belts uncovered.
But as alluring as their exotic and scantily clad bodies were, it was the dancers' movements, perfectly in tune with the strange and seductive music, that left her speechless. One moment their arms moved like snakes, fluid, slow and sensual, the other they fluttered like the wings of a nervous bird, and then they were folded below the dancers' chins, giving the puzzling impression that the jerkily moving heads had no connection to the softly swaying bodies.
And then the drums sped up, changed rhythm, and the swaying of the bell-adorned hips was interrupted by fast jerks while at the same time the entire bodies seemed to vibrate. Just as Éowyn thought there could be nothing more enticing than those bronze-coloured thighs shining through the flowing fabric, their naked bellies started to undulate as if slow waves pulsated through them. With graceful steps and swaying hips the dancers moved from pallet to pallet, stopping here and there to give the man on it a seductive smile and an especially lascivious move of the hips or shimmy of the breasts. And yet there was more in to that dance than just the tickling of male fantasy, something Éowyn felt but could neither grasp nor name, something singing of the very secret of life itself, the circle of Jara, of Erce's embrace, of birth and death and birth again, of life conquering.
By now all men were clapping their hands to the rousing rhythm of the dance, whistling and whooping, and visibly having the time of their lives. Exactly at that moment the door behind them opened and the Warden hustled in, followed by the portly healer.
A look at the old man's face nearly made Éowyn pity him. Such a mixture of horror, embarrassment and disgust she had never seen before. His face and the long, wrinkly neck were glowing in a livid red, causing the grey stubble they were covered in to stand out like the spikes of a hedgehog. If only there had not been that salient larynx! Éowyn bit the inner part of her cheek to keep herself from bursting into laughter. The poor man! Swallowing hard, his lips trembling, his eyes nearly popping out of his head, he stared at the scene that unfolded in front of him. Éowyn realised only too well that the Riders' more than obvious delight in the dancers' display as much as the display in itself was most certainly contradicting every single Gondorean standard of decency, everything that had ruled the old Warden's life and self-perception until that very moment.
Out of the corner of her eye she shot a quick glance at the Steward. Neither his face nor his posture gave away anything about his thoughts and emotions, at least for a superficial observer. He stood straight, but with notable ease, and his features were absolutely placid. And yet there was this nearly invisible crinkling of the corners of his eyes that for a split second made her wonder if it indicated censure or suppressed laughter, but then her attention was called back to the proceedings in the yard, as the whistling and shouting rose to a nearly deafening intensity.
Beholding the reason for the men's enthusiasm, Éowyn simply gaped. Their arms and hands continuing to move gracefully, their bodies shimmying, the dancers one by one bent over backwards, their bodies arching in a most enticing way. The naked skin of their bellies glistened with a fine layer of sweat, and caused by the backward bowing, their legs stood out clearly visible, as the folds of the voluminous garments fell back.
Amid the thundering applause of the Riders the dancers finally straightened again, and then it happened. The moment the dancer that had performed close to him turned, one of the men reached out and heartily grabbed her buttocks. With the speed of a striking snake the woman swivelled round and without hesitation rapped her knuckles across his head before she continued her way.
Immediately one of the Riders from the camp barked angrily. "Keep your paws to yourself, you stupid sod! I told you: Look, not grope!"
Gleeful laughter arose all through the yard, but the culprit just raised his offending hand shoulder-high, grinning widely. "All right, Kenward. But such a nice handful of arse is truly worth a rap over the head."
Jeering, some men seconded him, while others told him to what use he should put his hands and Éowyn was grateful that the Warden did not understand the language of the Mark. The poor man anyway seemed close to a stroke. He now turned to the Steward, addressing him in a pleading tone.
"My Lord Steward, I beg you, do something! This is madness! Fornication! It threatens the peace of the Houses! These savages have united against chastity and decency, turning these sacred sites into a brothel! What if the people, what if the other patients come to hear of this?"
Éowyn felt her pity with the Warden drop to zero at his agitated plea, and she focussed on the Steward's reaction, but there was little that gave her a clear clue. Just for once, his eyebrow twitched, and then he gave the Warden a short nod.
The musicians were still playing on, and two by two the dancers entered the sickrooms, to perform for those who were lying inside, unable to leave their pallets.
A few energetic strides brought the Steward to Kenward, the Rider who had rebuked the pert man. Éowyn could only see the Steward's back, but she saw the plain surprise on the Rider's face, followed by doubt and finally resignation, as with a shrug he pointed to the matron on the other side of the yard, close to the musicians.
The Rider in tow, the Steward walked over and addressed her. Éowyn saw the woman frown and shoot an enquiring side glance at Kenward, but when the Steward's hand went to the pouch at his belt, the matron's attention was immediately back on him. He put something into her hand. She did not need more than a fleeting glance at it, and her face split into a wide grin. With a well-practised movement she stowed whatever he had given her away in her ample bosom and then bowed with surprising agility, catching the hem of the Steward's tunic and kissing it.
Éowyn gritted her teeth. How could she have believed that he was different from these prissy healers? Savages the Warden called them. Men and women who did nothing but celebrate life, who simply rejoiced being alive after that much death and suffering? And the Steward said nothing against it. The Gondorean hypocrite! Hiding her clenched fist in the folds of her dress, she met the Steward's gaze boldly when he turned back. She would make no bones about letting him know her scorn!
He did not say anything, but there only was the characteristic twitching of his left brow and a short flash of mirth in his grey eyes, leaving Éowyn with a strange feeling of anticipation, and then he turned to the Warden.
"Master Warden, I assure you there will be no problems and no complaints from other patients."
The Warden nearly sighed with relief. "I thank you for telling them to stop this barbaric behaviour, my lord."
Intrigued Éowyn saw the Steward's brow twitch again, the only movement in his otherwise expressionless face. "I am afraid you got me wrong, Master Warden. You wanted peace, didn't you?"
The Warden blinked in utter surprise. "Yes, certainly, my lord, peace. But..."
The Steward shrugged. "That's why I arranged for them to visit the Gondorean wounded as well once they have finished with the Rohirric wards." His face still deadpan, he turned to Éowyn, offering her his arm with a graceful movement. "My lady..."
Fighting the urge to burst into laughter, she forced her features into composure and put her fingertips on his lower arm, carefully avoiding his gaze. Avoiding those grey eyes she knew to be sparkling with mirth and mischief. But all her efforts lasted not longer than the moment they were out in the corridor and she heard the door of the ward close behind them.
Clutching his arm, she then simply slumped against him, burying her face in his shoulder in a desperate attempt to muffle the peal of laughter she was no longer able to control. She felt his arm circling her jerking shoulders, the vibration of his own chuckles resounding in his chest, felt his cheek on the crest of her head, the warmth of his breath tickling her ear and neck while she laughed, unable to stop, unwilling to end this moment of mirth and bliss.
When she finally stepped out of his embrace, she had to wipe the tears of laughter from her cheeks. With a deep breath of satisfaction she looked up into his face, and seeing his smile, with the typical containment of his lips while his eyes shone with profound happiness, she could not but smile again.
This incredible man! Béma, who had ever thought that a Gondorean Lord could have such a Rohirric brand of humour! And then like in an affirmation of their mutual understanding they turned to walk down the corridor. There was a busy day ahead of them, and they had better face it.
It was well after lunch time when Éowyn finally slumped down on her bed, feeling worn out and mentally exhausted and at the same time utterly satisfied. Warily she eyed the vegetable pies the healers had left for her on the bedside table. She did not feel like eating, but she poured herself a mug of water. What a busy day lay behind her, and how well everything had worked out!
Faramir had suggested that she met the scribe he had sent for in his room at the Houses of Healing which they had already used in former meetings, and she had immediately agreed. The room was only slightly larger than her own, but being a different shape, the space could be used to much more advantage. It had surprised her though that said scribe had showed up together with Lord Bahor, the Steward's old counsellor, and a manservant, but soon she had understood the usefulness of that arrangement as it had become clear that the old counsellor had a profound knowledge not only of Minas Tirith's stores but also of the usual income of goods and supplies from the other fiefs.
They had been in a vivid discussion on what supplies Gondor could provide right at the moment and what could be expected in the long run when three Riders had turned up, claiming to be sent at Marshal Elfhelm's and the Lord Faramir's request to assist Éowyn in her decisions concerning the supports for the Mark. Grave and silent they had taken their chairs, and very soon it had become obvious that none of them was a warrior by profession and all of them spoke only little Westron, thus obliging Éowyn to translate. They were farmers from different parts of the realm who had followed Théoden King's call to muster, and Éowyn could not but think that they were probably better skilled with plough and spade than with spear and sword. But exactly that knowledge it was that made them now more useful for the Mark than many an accomplished fighter.
Soon she found herself interpreting in an exchange about the conditions of the areas of the Westfold close to the Isen, the destruction of probably all winter sowing in those fields, the kinds of grain that might be used for a spring sowing. Also differing sowing times in the dales of the more northern parts of the Mark compared with the rather protected area of the Folde had to be considered, and the probability of switching to sowing more rye and buckwheat in the poor soil of the Wold to compensate the losses of barley and oats in the Westfold. All in all it had become more than clear that though the people of the Mark might be in for a year of shortage there was no immediate threat of starvation, especially as summer was approaching and with the growing of grass and other wild plants that could be collected there would be fresh supplies for beasts and men. What worried the Eorlingas was the lack of time and of hands to get the grain for any spring sowing into the soil to provide a realistic chance to survive the next winter.
Thoughtfully Éowyn swirled the contents of her mug. They already were nearing the end of March, a crucial date for farming. Every child in the Mark knew that grain which was not in the soil till the end of March would bring naught but chaff. The information that Erkenbrand's people had hidden enough bushels of good grain in the caves of Helm's Deep to sow the fields of the Deeping-coomb with barley and oat had certainly been a relief, but what about the soil itself? Had not Éomer told her that Saruman's troops had defiled the fields of the coomb as well as those along the Isen? That the river itself had run with waste and poison from the pits of Isengard? The Westfold had always been the breadbasket of the Mark, and if they had to plough new areas in the plains the harvest certainly would be inferior to the plentiful ones of the Deeping Vale. And they would need a good summer on top of all... With a sigh she put down the mug. It could not be helped. Elfhelm was right to send every man he could spare back to ensure that the Mark's came through the winter.
And each Rider going home now would take with him a bushel of grain of his choice, a bag of different kinds of legume seeds, a supply of dried fruit and nuts, air-dried meat and good hard cheese, and on top of all a Gondorean army knife. The sample Lord Bahor's man had brought had passed from hand to hand and been acknowledged as a worthy gift.
And then Gondorean bureaucracy had proved its usefulness, as the scribe had provided lists with the numbers of the fallen, their probable units, and often even their names, thus enabling Lord Bahor to arrange the agreed-on gifts to be also handed out to the families of the fallen. There certainly were some gaps in the information, but if the lists could be compared with the information of the respective leaders of the Éoreds there was a fair chance that no one would be left out. And certainly the distributed loot was not to be underestimated...
There was a soft knock at the door and then Lhindir entered, friendly and professional as always.
"Good afternoon, Lady Éowyn. I was informed that your meeting had ended and just came to ask if you need anything."
She shook her head and thanked him when his gaze fell on the pies.
"Are they not to your liking, my lady? Would you like me to fetch you anything else?"
"No, thank you. I do not doubt that the pies are just fine, and I assure you I normally would have enjoyed eating them. But thanks to the Steward's courtesy I had a breakfast this morning that would put any banquet to shame and I simply am not hungry again."
"Well then you should at least try the cream puffs Prince Imrahil's housekeeper sent for you."
Taking the small, lidded pot that sat on the bedside table, the young healer opened it, showing its contents to her. The small pastries were the size of walnuts and seemed to be glazed, their surface shining below the decoration of finely cut green cubes. Gingerly she picked one of the cubes and tasted it.
"Candied lemon peel," Lhindir explained, smilingly.
Now that she knew what it was she recognised the taste and making up her mind, she took one of the pastries and carefully nibbled the dough. It was rather dry, and considering its taste and texture, she felt quite sure that it held a lot of eggs. A typical spring cake it seemed. She continued her nibbling till she reached the filling, a sweetened mixture of cream and curd with a slight trace of lemon. Popping the pastry into her mouth, she motioned to Lhindir to take the pot.
"You had better take them, Lhindir. They are nice, but certainly better when eaten fresh. I think the filling will soak through if they sit for too long."
Smiling, he nodded. "With your permission I will put some aside for Anwen to have when she comes for her shift and the rest I will share with the healers."
"Do as you like. They certainly deserve a treat with all the work they have to put up with."
Lhindir shrugged. "Oh, I expect work to become considerably less now that the women and children will be coming back to the city. Most probably all the lighter wounded who have families in the city will want to leave the Houses, and we will be able to concentrate on the really serious cases."
She could not help the feeling that something was wrong with the young healer. It seemed as if there was a trace of sadness or at least uncertainty in his voice, despite his smiling face. But should he not be happy? He lived, his sweetheart lived, there was a future in front of them... Schooling her voice to friendly casualness, she asked: "And you? Are you expecting any family members to come back?"
She could not say how she had expected him to react to her question, but certainly it was nothing like the suddenly stony face she was confronted with.
"I have nobody I would call family, my lady."
Éowyn was stunned. Had not Anwen told her that his father was a wheelwright or something the like in one of the lower circles of the city? He certainly had to have a family then. Or had his father fallen in the destruction of the first circle?
Lhindir must have noticed her frown, for he swallowed and averted his eyes. "When I recovered from the accident that had smashed my hip and it became obvious that I would stay crippled, my father refused to pay the fee due to the Houses, claiming he had no use for a useless..." He stopped, desperately fighting for composure and it took him a while till he was able to continue. "He had a major row with the healers who tried to convince him that I was no way useless, and in the end he left me here, telling them I could work off my fee if I was as useful a lad as they said."
Éowyn felt embarrassed with the ineptitude of her questions, but the feeling that stirred even deeper was pity for the lad. Reaching out, she touched his hand. "I am sorry, Lhindir. I would not have asked you had not Anwen told me that you yourself had decided to stay at the Houses as a healer's apprentice after your accident. I did not know you were forced to..."
He shook his head vigorously. "No, my lady, I was not forced to become a healer. That was my own decision, but only after I had been working in the kitchens and the herb garden for almost an entire year. I suppose Mareth simply did not tell Anwen about that to save me the embarrassment of feeling cast out and unwanted."
Éowyn stifled a sigh. If anyone knew what it meant to be unwanted and cast out it certainly was Mareth. How many more hurtful pasts and undeserved pain would she discover if more of the healers she had come to know revealed the stories of their lives?
Lhindir seemed to have regained his equilibrium, for he continued to explain. "It is not that I feel anything like that now, my lady. I have an aim, and I have people who care for me. Like every apprentice, I have a guardian who I live with, healer Tirnel in my case, though he left with the host for the Morannon. And Mareth has always supported and encouraged me. It was her who told me to leave my past behind, who encouraged me to find my own life... And she also stood up for me, saying she trusted me when it became obvious that I... I mean, when Anwen came to the Houses last winter, and I... "
He stopped, a furious blush rushing into his normally pale cheeks. Éowyn suppressed a chuckle. Béma, to be that young and that much in love again! And then all of a sudden she felt her heartbeat stop: When she had been his age, her sweetheart had already been dead, fallen as his duty had demanded, protecting his lord and prince, her cousin, Théodred, Théoden King's heir. Careful not to let her emotion show, she addressed the lad, encouraging him to overcome his embarrassment.
"Well, now that there will be peace you certainly have plans for the future, don't you?
He shrugged, avoiding her gaze. "I'll finish my apprenticeship at the Houses this coming winter, and then I'll leave for one of the coastal towns or perhaps for Lebennin to work as a healer or as a healer's assistant there. Healers from Minas Tirith have a good reputation and I'll be able to earn a living wherever I go."
"And what about Anwen? Will she be content to leave the city?"
He swallowed. "I don't know, my lady. She will stay in Mareth's charge until she is sixteen. But who knows? Now that there will be peace..." He shrugged again, helpless and crestfallen. "Her family hails from Ithilien, and her brother died as a Ranger in Gondor's service. Everybody expects the Lord Faramir to put in a word for his Rangers and their families. She might get some land, or an allowance. They certainly will arrange something for her."
Puzzled, Éowyn frowned. Lhindir and Anwen had been seen by all, including the Steward, as the lovebirds of the Houses. What could have brought about this striking change? Eyeing him carefully, she asked: "Have you argued? Or has Mareth..."
"No, my lady. Nothing of that kind. It is just..." He heaved a breath. "I thought that we were all going to die, and I did not want to die without...without at least having kissed her." He awkwardly turned the jug in his hands. "She said that she liked me. But now... I cannot expect her to stay with me as she is high above me in rank."
"She said so?"
He shook his head. "No, she didn't. But what kind of life am I able to offer her? She certainly deserves better than being a mere healer's wife. I mean, she has Númenóran ancestors, comes from one of the most important families of Ithilien, and I... I am nothing but a wheelwright's crippled son, born in the first circle of the city. I would never have met her had I not taken up apprenticeship here..."
Resolutely Éowyn rose and took the jug from his hands. "Healer Lhindir, I'm afraid your position as a healer and my gratitude for your skilled care prevent me from hitting this jug over your head. You have not asked Anwen, have you? You think you know what is best for her and you can decide for her. Do you? What gives you the right to do so? Finish your apprenticeship, as it would be a shame if you did not, for you are an excellent healer, and wait how things will develop. Don't be a fool. Give her a chance to make up her mind. You are both very young, but I tell you something: I was not much older than Anwen is when I made up my mind as to who I wanted to marry, and my sweetheart was even younger than you. You say the Steward will care for his Rangers and their families, and I am sure he will. Lhindir, he wants to return to Emyn Arnen, to the ancient site where his ancestors lived. Will he and his people not need a healer over there?"
Dumbfounded, the young healer stood and stared, but then he stubbornly shook his head. "No, my lady. I would put shame on her and I could not live with that thought. She deserves someone of her own standing... and someone who is hale."
With an angry grunt Éowyn slammed down the jug on the bedside table. "What she deservers is someone who has enough brains and guts to stand by her no matter what comes. Go and grow up some more, and then start considering things again. And now send me one of the women to help me undress."
Purposefully she turned her back on him, annoyed that his stupid, noble but patronising renunciation disgruntled her that much. Why did men have to be so idiotic beyond description as soon as a woman they cared for was involved?
It was dark, cold and absolutely quiet, giving her no trace of orientation whatsoever. She stood for a while, listening for a hint, until the cold creeping up her bare legs made it impossible to stand motionless any longer. Clenching her fists in stubborn challenge, she made up her mind. Why stand and wait for whatever was out there in the cold of the void? Was it not better to boldly approach it? And yet there was a small voice in the back of her mind that warned her, told her to be careful.
When she started to move tentatively even her own feet did not make any sound. But she felt the ground under her soles, felt irregularities of the surface, fissures, small, sharp-edged boulders, all piercingly cold, but strange enough her feet did not turn numb. Uncertain whether it was just cold rock or ice, she slowly, step by step, proceeded.
For a seemingly endless time her toes examined the ground in the total blackness around her before she put her foot down, until suddenly there was nothing in front of her any more. She tried the other foot... Nothing but a sharp edge falling away. She crouched and then lay down and groped with outstretched hands, when the thought hit her. Why could she use both hands? Had not her arm been broken? Concentrating on what lay in front of her, she tried to reach down as far as possible. Her fingers met nothing but a plunging wall. How deep was it? How wide?
The cold of the ground cut into her belly and breast, and only now she realised that she was naked. If she did not move she would freeze to death... She would freeze to death even if she moved. Why not risk a leap? There was no chance she would survive anyway. Hesitantly she got up. What if she turned round, walked back to where she had come from? But where had she come from? Did it even matter in this desert of nothingness? A leap, and all would be over... Would it really be? She heaved a breath, her decision made. There was no honour in an aimless jump, no challenge, like when facing the foe that threatened her people. She still had strength, she still would go on. No cowardly attempt of escape for a Shieldmaiden of the House of Eorl.
Slowly she made to turn, careful not to lose her footing on the brink of she knew not what. But how hard she tried, her feet seemed to be glued to the ground, her toes clawed around the edge of the escarpment. Trapped! She did not feel any fear, just anger and a kind of grim resolve. If this was what she had to face, she would do so and prove to whatever was out there in the faceless dark the stamina of an Eorling. Gritting her teeth, she lifted her head. She was Éowyn, Éomund's Dohtor, she had killed Angmar, she was not afraid of darkness, cold and death.
Strange that there was no wind. How could it be so calm, if she was on a plain, a plateau or the frozen surface of a lake? And then there was something that made her hold her breath. Light! Faint, but unmistakably light. Not the wavering light of a candle, nor the reddish glow of a fire, but a steady, golden shine that slowly grew. "Liquid sunlight," a warm voice said in her head. She knew that voice. "Liquid sunlight"... The image of a small golden orb rose before her inner eye, and she knew that orb was hovering behind her shoulders. "Liquid sunlight"... And suddenly she felt the air stir, as warm breath brushed her ear, swept caressingly over her neck, her shoulders, down her naked back.
Frantically she tried to turn, to face whatever, whoever was breathing down her back, but her feet would not move. Staring down at them, she saw her toes, pale in their nakedness on the sharp-edged surface. And then she heard the noise of water. Trickling slowly at first: drops falling into the fissure in front of her. But they took up speed, dropping faster and faster, until the noise changed from the bickering sound of falling rain to the bubbling of a small brook.
Rivulets started to flow around her feet, plunging into the ravine, swelling unstoppable, and when they finally gushed over her bare feet she saw in the golden light from behind her that it was no water but blood. Red, fresh blood, but ice-cold as if it had been frozen and was now melting, rushing down into the abyss that barred her way.
Slowly the edges of the surface she stood on smoothed, melting, flowing... And then the thought hit her: She would lose her footing if the melting continued. The ground under her feet would melt and like the water... the blood, she would plunge down. She was lost. There was light, there was warm breath, and she would die because of it.
And then she heard the voice. A male voice, chuckling softly, whispering words she could not understand, faint and yet near, fluttering down her body in the wake of the breath. Warm...soothing...caressing...enticing... And with growing horror she felt her body melt. Melt and turn into blood and water, flowing into nothingness, plunging into a fathomless abyss, an unknown void.
For a moment she was not sure if she had really woken, though the feeling of the mattress below her seemed real enough. She felt limp, strangely listless and unable to focus her mind on anything. Still drifting between dream and reality she let her gaze wander to the small window. It took a moment for the realisation to sink in that the square high up in the wall still was light blue and that that meant it was still day.
How long had she slept? Shaking off the last remnants of sleep, she sat up. What a disturbing dream. With a sigh she passed the back of her hand over her cheek and found it wet with tears.
White jasmine: The enticing fragrance of this flower and the perfume made of it play a very important part in the Asian and Arabian world. And as Tolkien obviously based Near Harad on the Middle East I thought that it fitted as a symbol of the Haradrim dancers. In the European "language of flowers" jasmine symbolises attraction, which is not really unfitting for this chapter either. ;)
Jara: The rune that symbolises the changing seasons of the year, emphasising autumn and harvest, and in general the reward for previous efforts.
Dreams in which you think and decide in a logic way, very similar to the way you would when awake, occur quite seldom and are called lucid dreams. Some lucid dreamers are even able to control their dreams.
Thanks to all who encouraged me, reading and reviewing. I Pm all who do so, but as some of you comment anonymously this is the only way to tell you how much I appreciate your feedback. So my special thanks you to "Anon", who over the Christmas holidays trwled through all my stories and keft comments. (The typical persistant Northener! ;))
And as always many, many thanks go to Lady Bluejay who helped me with the language.